Good Life Tour of the Harn By: Will sink

Medium of the art/technique of the artist

In the past, I have not have very much exposure to fine art, especially in a museum context. Going to the Harn Museum allowed me to experience a more hands on, interactive approach to everything from paintings to sculptures. This opportunity broadened my understanding of the importance of medium, technique, and style that the artist chooses for their work. It is awe-inspiring to think of the deliberate choices the artist makes before even starting a piece. One particular sculpture that caught my attention is by an artist named Nancy Graves entitled "11-06-94." This piece, from afar, appears to be a random ensemble of different materials and shapes, yet works to draw the viewer in with its complexity. "11-06-94" depicts several different elements that, when conjoined into one sculpture, tell a story. It contains recreations of a horseshoe crab, human bones, music notes, glass figures, and stars. The paradoxical nature of placing the images of death (the bones) directly attached to the bright symbols of life and positivity (music notes and stars), is something that can really only be understood in person. Being able to see the piece from different angles offers a better chance to analyze the whole piece and its meaning, that could never be done well enough from a picture. What impressed me so much about this piece is the amount of different materials the artist had to master in order to be able to piece them together, including metal and glass. Looking at a picture of "11-06-94" by Nancy Graves does not do the piece justice, as well as limits the understanding of the meaning behind the piece.

design of the museum

The Harn is a beautiful establishment whose design lends itself to be explored and enjoyed, without distracting visitors from the art it showcases. The white walls run throughout most of the museum, making the space feel bright and open. The rooms with hardwood floor also added to the overall aesthetic of the building. With my little experience of navigating through a museum, coupled with my terrible sense of direction, I was relieved to find the halls easy to navigate and fun to explore. One exhibit that caught my attention is called "Meant To Be Shared." This exhibit features over one hundred prints from Italy, France, and Spain. During my time in this exhibit, I learned that these prints were collected by a philanthropist, and later given to Yale University Art Gallery. The design of the exhibit was spacious and bright, which allowed for an environment in which each visitor could assess the featured pieces without feeling crowded. Additionally, the way that the prints are showcased in the room are such that every detail of the pieces, as well as their texture and medium, were easy to see and analyze. By deliberately spacing out the prints, there was ample room to move around and easy access to each piece. This exhibit was different than other exhibits in that it did not showcase any sculptures. This left the room very open and spread out, but with the amount of prints the philanthropist acquired, it did not feel empty in the slightest. On the contrary, it felt full of a large variety of colors and styles as there were so many different artists displayed. The exhibit made me feel as though I was given an amazing opportunity to experience and understand how much art styles can vary from artist to artist.

Art and core values

Art has always impressed, yet overwhelmed me, due to the high level of interpretation it offers. I may look at a piece and have it elicit certain emotions in me, while it may have a completely different effect on the next person that looks at it. The way one interprets a piece is based on a variety of personal factors that make up one's identity including past experiences, emotional depth, core values, mental state, and personality. One of the pieces that elicited an emotional response from me is a sculpture entitled "Archangel Raphael" attributed to George T. Lopez. This piece is a sculpture in the "Spotlight: Latin America" exhibit; an exhibit that features 37 artists of Latin American descent, spanning from Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. The emotions this piece elicited in me were not based on religion, as one might assume. Instead it caused me to think about a core value that I believe is important, which is the importance of family. I have always had close relationships with my parents, and am working on fostering a better relationship with my sister. Family is an important source of support, pride, and love. My mom is a practicing Catholic woman, but believes in individual beliefs and, as a result, never pushed religion on me or my sister, but rather let us explore and question when we felt it necessary. This sculpture of Archangel Raphael is clearly an ode to religion and God specifically, which made me feel a connection through it with my mom. It elicited empathetic feelings towards her and all she's been through, as religion has always been a source of reprieve and safety for her. The symbol of Archangel Raphael is also associated with healing, which led me to a better understanding of the comfort my mom derives from her religious practices. Making the connection between this sculpture and my mom showed me how strongly I value my relationships with my family, and how much I appreciate all they've done for me.

art and the good life

The Asian Water Garden at the Harn was an exhibit that I would consider an art piece on its own. Its design follows that of Japanese gardens, whose designs are meticulously planned out to create the optimal peaceful environment. Experiencing a garden like this right here in Gainesville was humbling to say the least. The people who worked to design the garden did a tremendous job of fostering an environment of peace and tranquility, which allowed for a great deal of thought. The theme I associate with this exhibit is the first module in the Good Life course entitled "Thinking about the Good Life." Just as Henry David Thoreau and Siddhartha craved solitude in order to reach enlightenment, I felt the space created by the garden allowed for quiet, isolated contemplation on what I need to do to find happiness in my own life. Spending time listening to the natural sounds created and seeing the amount of color the garden offered, enabled me to get lost in my own thought, free of interrupting distractions. This is a rare opportunity in today's society where distractions are an unavoidable part of our daily lives. The garden embodied the theme of Thinking about the Good Life because of the way in which it encouraged deep thought and contemplation, and helped me understand the importance of taking time to think about my life and what makes me happy, rather than trying to please other people constantly, just as Thoreau and Siddhartha understood when they left their loved ones behind to set off on their personal journeys of self-discovery.

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